How Do I Stay Married?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

This topic is a bit off the main theme of this blog, but this is an extremely important topic that all Christians must deal with.

My wife and I have been married 18 years, which isn’t any kind of world record, but is somewhat impressive, given the ongoing high divorce rate in the US.  We are sometimes asked (mostly my wife) how we have kept our marriage together, and we always tell people about the same thing.  I thought I would humbly submit this advice to our blog readers.

First of all, passionate romantic feelings are not the answer.  We do have feelings for each other, but they are constantly changing, and we do not count on them to keep our marriage going.  They are too fickle.

Marriage requires that two people have a common will to be committed to each other forever, and it requires that both partners understand each other, really understand each other in a deep way.

The first requirement is the most important.  If you are not 100% committed to each other, your marriage will struggle, and possibly fail.  Most people think they are committed to their spouse, but they are really only committed as long as their spouse makes them happy (provides them pleasure).  We submit that this is nothing but selfishness, and it will not make your marriage last.  Why?  Because what makes you happy is going to constantly change throughout your life.  No spouse, on their own, can possibly keep you happy your entire life.  If you think they can, you are truly foolish.

If the answer to commitment doesn’t lie in your spouse, where does it lie?  For us, it comes from a focus on God.  We are totally committed to God, and we know he loves marriage and hates divorce.  The closer we each get to God, the closer we get to each other.  Without God being at the center of our marriage, it is doubtful we would have stayed married for 18 years.  If you and your spouse don’t have God at the center of your lives, make it so.  You must start there.

The second requirement is knowing your spouse in a profound way.  My wife and I struggled with this in the early years of our marriage.  We really did not know each other, and we really did not know ourselves.  Men often assume that their wives should just intuitively know what they need from a marriage, and women often assume that their husbands should just intuitively know what they need from the marriage.  Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.  I had no idea what my wife wanted and she didn’t know what I wanted.  That spells disaster if it isn’t corrected.

Here is where books can help.  Below are three books that can really help you understand yourself and your spouse – what you need from the marriage.  We cannot recommend these books enough.  Even years after reading these books, we refer back to them all the time.  They made that big of an impact on our marriage.

  1. His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage
  2. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
  3. Men Are Like Waffles–Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences

If you are united in your love for God, and if you make every effort to understand and then meet your spouse’s needs, you will be on the road to a successful marriage – at least that’s been our experience.  I hope it’s yours as well.

  • Kati McLean

    My husband and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary this Tuesday (29th). God has kept our marriage together. I you focus your life on God and to do what is pleasing to him, then divorce is not an option. We have had many trials, serious trials, but I have always focused on what God wants me to do not what I want to do. <

  • kay

    Congratulations to both marriages above. I totally agree with what you said. We have been married 38 years, but it has been horrible. God is not as much a part of our marriage as should be. One of us just isn’t interested. Not sure why we have lasted, but hope things will get better. But you are so right. It takes God to make it work. And I hope what you said helps others. Joe McGee had a good show this week on what men need to know.

  • Bill Pratt

    29 years is fantastic! Congratulations!

  • Bill Pratt

    We’ll keep praying that things improve, Kay.

  • gloria

    Wonderful post! Thanks bill for the book recommendations. When I left the LDS faith — it seriously affected my marriage. I realized our marriage was based on a religion. God really has done a work in our lives and continues to teach me daily the things you mentioned in your post.

    May God bless you and your wife with many more years of wedded joy,

  • Bill Pratt

    Thank you so much!

  • Pam

    Thank you for including our book, Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti. If you’d like a copy of our new book, The Marriage Code to review on your blog, email:
    Again, thanks!
    Pam Farrel

  • Tim and kathy Keller’s book on marriage is the absolute best we’ve ever made. Usually marriage and parenting books leave me feeling guilty – this one made me VERY glad to be married and greatful that God converted us. We married each other in 1980 and were just faithful church-attenders. By God’s grace, we were brought into the Kingdom. It’s been a ROUGH road, but definitely worth it now…as we continue to grow.